Discovering Argentina

Here's a short text about our first impressions on crossing the border between Brazil and Argentina:

<< Wake up in a bus station in the unfamiliar town. It's Brazil. You arrived on an over-night bus. Get out and search for information desk. Find one with a lady sitting in the dark. "Go out this way, get on bus no.115 and go to the Centre" she says. You go out and stand in a bus stop. All 5 buses that stop for the next 15 minutes are going to Paraguay. Finally no.115 arrives and you get on. In the Centre you hop out and walk a little to a small bus stop where a bus to Argentina should arrive. It arrives. You get on. In a while you reach border control post of Brazil. "An officer should get on the bus to check the passports" you think. No officer turns up. But instead a couple from Netherlands gets in - a couple you know. In a country of 200 million people you know about 10 people and you get to meet two of them in the bus. After sharing the joy of meeting each other they share with you the fact that most probably you missed the check-out procedure on the Brazil side of the border. But the bus is already approaching the border of Argentina. You get out to at least have a stamp of Argentina in your passport or to be directed back to Brazil to get the check-out stamp there. Argentinian border control is relaxed - they run though the pages of your passport and pop a stamp - you are in Argentina now. Step out of the building and see a bus in a few meters. "It's the bus we were on, we can still get on it!", and you go running though the metal detector gates and an officer checking some lady's bag at the side of it. Was it necessary to have your big backpacks checked, or not? Probably not. Welcome to Argentina. You exchange smiles with the Dutch. But technically you are now in Brazil and Argentina at the same time. "No worries", says the man at the reception of the place you're staying tonight, "you can walk to the border and get stamped out of Brazil on your way to the laundry place" and continues to play his guitar. Fine, I think this is what I'll probably do. >>

So at first we were stunned by the simple, but for us so very unusual reality. However, after getting a little rest at the hostel (weather that day was sunny with temperatures above 30 C), we did take a bus back to the border and got stamped-out from Brazil. No questions were asked by the Brazilian border control officials. The only difference between our first and second time we entered Argentina was that apparently there was a metal detector and an obligatory x-ray for the luggage which we simply ran through without being checked the first time.

The next day we visited the famous Iguazu Falls. It's the largest system of waterfalls in the world and it is located on the border between Brazil and Argentina on the Parana river, so visitors are welcome to see it from both sides. We, however, decided to choose one of them and since we heard that Argentinean side is more impressive, we went for it. The whole territory is big enough to have a few thousands of people exploring the falls and the forest tracks at once. And it's full of contrasts - for a moment you're squeezing into a train carriage together with a crowd of people and fight for a place to see the famous Devil's Throat waterfall, while suddenly you're alone on a cozy forest track listening to a dozen of different birds singing... And there are these cute furry friends, called Coati, sneaking around searching for snacks... So here's the already-traditional mix of short videos to share our impressions of the day at Iguazu Falls with a funny sound-track which is called Cataratas do Iguaçu by João Triska :)

The next location in Argentina was Buenos Aires - the impressive huge city with a very rich history. We were lucky to get in touch with community of Lithuanians in Argentina, so we were welcomed by locals who speak our language and it made a whole experience a bit mind-blowing. We visited the community of Lithuanians in Berisso (a town about 70 km from Buenos Aires) and got a chance to meet Argentinean youth of Lithuanian descent, practicing Lithuanian traditional folk dances. It was incredible! They also speak Lithuanian and wear tattoos with Lithuanian symbolics and phrases. See it for yourself here:

We stayed with a lady from the community - Daina and her boyfriend Mariano. She speaks Lithuanian - it was a very pleasant thing for us! And we were even invited to celebrate Petu's birthday dressed as hippies :) Petu is Daina's neighbour and friend.

I even managed to arrange a meeting with my very far relative, aunt Maria Irene! Oh, and we took a selfie by the Christmas tree under the fascinating paintings in a historical building which is now a fancy shopping center. By the way, while being here, we get surprised every time we see a Christmas tree :) It is very easy to forget that "Santa Claus is coming to town" when there's burning sun and 30 degrees outside....

So the whole experience, including the excursions around the most impressive districts of Buenos Aires, was unforgettable, and after a few days here, we got on the bus again to get from the East of Argentina, to the West - a city called Mendoza.

After a very busy schedule during the last two weeks (as you may know, travelling, exploring and partying takes a lot of energy... ), we decided to take it slow in Mendoza. Especially, knowing that we will come back to this beautiful town again on our motorcycles on the way North in a couple of months. So, we went walking in the center, we hiked up the hill of Gloria (Cerro de la Gloria) and went to the thermal hot springs spa in the mountains for some relaxation... except that it had nothing to do with relaxation there... There were more kids in those pools then adults and apparently Argentinian kids are VERY energetic and loud. :)

Finally on November 25th we left Mendoza on hopefully our last bus ride to Valparaiso in Chile, where we will finally pick up our bikes and get rolling!

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